The Seven Sins of Performance Reviews

Some time ago I did some work with a consultant friend of mine. We were talking about how we could “enthuse” managers to hold their “one on one reviews” with their department employees.

We wondered why this key business activity was not “habitual” A phrase we coined on many HR polices and practices we found that we were not grounded in daily routine. Here is what we found!

1. We make assumptions about performance:

“He knows what he is all about”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”

But experience actually shows that the less specific you are, the more risky are the odds of achieving forecasts and plans.


2. We don’t always know what people can or cannot do:

Because we don’t systematically review the “gap” between predicted outcomes and actual results. As a result we don’t know whether:

a) We set the right targets in the first place.

b) The individual failed because of his/her own shortcomings- or because of some outside influence.

3. We compensate for an individual’s shortcomings:

Because we assume he/she can’t change or improve or because we ourselves fear they will fail – so we do their job – or part of their job, for them.

4. We neglect to confront weaknesses:

Perhaps we’re frightened we won’t be able to handle the reaction. Maybe we have some difficulty in identifying possible weaknesses.

5. We don’t (always) know what personal skills we require of an individual:

Because we never wrote them down- or because we can’t accept what someone else wrote- or they were someone else’s recruit anyhow….

6.We only agree improvement plans when someone is seriously failing:

Because there’s a big “Non Mans Land” between actual failure and real success although it’s only the development of skills that enable us to cross it.

7. We adjust our expectations to compensate for the ability of our employees:

Unfortunately the market place in which we operate doesn’t do that….


Remember a performance review is a business meeting and it’s about the employee!


About HRMexplorer

Managing Director - Human Capital Europe and USA - My ability is to recognize ingrained assumptions and patterns of operation that aren’t productive, and offer practical, cost-effective and value-based solutions.

Posted on July 6, 2010, in HRMexplorer Blogs and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. They are sins Peter because without proper performance reviews we shortchange the the bottom line and ultimately – that’s why we’re in business.

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